10th annual Carbon Disclosure Project survey determines that 68% of the world’s largest firms that responded are ‘acting on climate change’

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From The Guardian:

The 10th annual Carbon Disclosure Project, which analysed responses from 396 of the 500 largest companies in the world, found more than two-thirds (68%) now say they put climate change central to their business, compared with 48% last year.

Almost half (45%) are now reporting they have cut their greenhouse gas emissions as a result of steps they have taken to tackle carbon, up from less than a fifth (19%) in 2010.

The Carbon Disclosure Project report, written by PwC, also said there was a link between higher stock market performance and action on climate change, with those that have a strong focus on the issue providing investors with approximately double the average return over the period 2005 to 2011…

The CDP report suggests that rising oil prices, risky energy supplies and growing recognition of the returns on investment in cutting emissions have made climate change a more important issue in the boardroom.

It says that 59% of companies reported that the cost of schemes to reduce emissions such as energy saving projects in buildings, installing low-carbon power and changing the behaviour of staff, were recouped within three years.

Almost three-quarters of businesses (74%) who responded to the survey now have emissions reductions targets, up from two-thirds (65%) in 2010…

The report found that the vast majority (93%) of companies who responded with information have senior executives or board members responsible for climate change.

And almost two-thirds (65%) offer financial rewards to staff for taking action on climate change.

Alan McGill, PwC sustainability and climate change partner, said: “We’re seeing the highest levels of board oversight and engagement on climate change strategy ever, with significant increases in the levels of monetary incentives linked to achieving targets.

Say hello to Uunartoq Qeqertaq, or Warming Island, one of the newest islands in the world according to the The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. Here’s a report from The Guardian (John Vidal). Here’s an excerpt:

If you have never heard of Uunartoq Qeqertaq, it’s possibly because it’s one of the world’s newest islands, appearing in 2006 off the east coast of Greenland, 340 miles north of the Arctic circle when the ice retreated because of global warming. This Thursday the new land – translated from Inuit as Warming Island – was deemed permanent enough by map-makers to be included in a new edition of the most comprehensive atlas in the world…

The world’s biggest physical changes in the past few years are mostly seen nearest the poles where climate change has been most extreme. Greenland appears considerably browner round the edges, having lost around 15%, or 300,000 sq km, of its permanent ice cover. Antarctica is smaller following the break-up of the Larsen B and Wilkins ice shelves.

Meanwhile, more Americans believe that human activity is responsible for climate change, according to this report from Timothy Gardner writing for Reuters. From the article:

The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12…

As Americans watch Republicans debate the issue, they are forced to mull over what they think about global warming, said Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University.

And what they think is also influenced by reports this year that global temperatures in 2010 were tied with 2005 to be the warmest year since the 1880s.

“That is exactly the kind of situation that will provoke the public to think about the issue in a way that they haven’t before,” Krosnick said about news reports on the Republicans denying climate change science…

Some 71 percent of the Americans who believe warming is happening think that it is caused either partly or mostly by humans, while 27 percent believe its is the result of natural causes, the poll found.

More climate change coverage here and here.

The monster snowpack in the Upper Colorado River basin resulted in big gains in storage in Lake Powell and Lake Mead

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Update: Down in the comments Tim Hodge reminds me that it’s pretty easy to check the gage height at Lake Mead and the 73% does not agree with Bureau of Reclamation information. He adds, “Still it’s better than 42%.”

Here’s a report about the Colorado Water Congress’ Summer Meeting from Allen Best running in The Telluride Watch. Click through and read the whole thing for a good recap. Here’s an excerpt:

Last spring, Colorado was, to paraphrase Dickens, a tale of two states. In the San Juan Mountains, maximum snowfall depths were reached on March 30, eight days earlier than average. Peak accumulations were about 90 percent of average. North of the Gunnison River, however, the La Niña storms stayed strong – and then, in April and May, turned remarkable. The Gunnison River itself had flows 125 percent of average. But northward, at Crested Butte, Aspen and Vail, the spring storms were unyielding. Colorado’s most remarkable story was in the Steamboat Springs region. At Buffalo Pass, eight miles from downtown Steamboat, the snow this year surpassed the tops of the 18-foot poles assembled to measure it…

This huge water year in Colorado – rivaled during recent decades only in 1995 and 1984 – had profound consequences for the big reservoirs downstream to which the Uncompaghre, San Miguel and other rivers ultimately deliver their water. Lake Powell had risen 24 feet as of late August as compared to last year. Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, was at 73 percent of capacity once again.

How very different from last December when Mead was at 42 percent of capacity, the lowest level since 1937, soon after completion of Hoover Dam.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Colorado River District Annual Seminar recap: Water use has ‘caught up with the supply’

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From KJCT8.com (Dann Cianca):

Mark Squillace, Director of the University of Colorado Law School’s Natural Resources Law Center gave a talk examining policy and river management. “We’re at a unique point in our history where the amount of water that we’re using has caught up with the supply,” Squillace said. Better-than-average precipitation this in 2011 kept river levels up on the Western Slope, but Squillace says, “what we’re really talking about is managing risk. Whether you believe in climate change or not, we know that there are risks associated with water supplies. There are droughts that occur.”[…]

“New supply is an essential part of that problem,” he says. “There are two choices for new supply: Drying up agriculture or transporting Colorado River basin water to the Front Range.” His point was to get local water managers thinking about plans that they could impose before Front Range managers came to them.

More coverage from NBC11News.com (Kelly Asmuth):

The River District says the state’s population is expected to double by 2050, with the majority of people living on the Front Range. The organization says transferring more water from the Western Slope needs to be discussed, even if it’s not a popular topic in the Grand Valley. “It’s something that truthfully a lot of people (on the Western Slope) wouldn’t want to hear, but unfortunately the reality is, we have to at least go in that direction and try and understand it,” says Colorado River District public information officer, Jim Pokrandt.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservation District is spearheading a hydroelectric generation plant just downstream of Pueblo Dam

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I’m a big proponent of hydroelectric power, possibly because I love technology, but also because of the low-carbon nature of hydropower. Of course, the effects on streamflow and aquatic and riparian life when a stream is harnessed, dammed, channeled, etc. are well known so I tend to favor retrofits in a stream system that has already been affected, rather than the taking of another stream life for humankind.

Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Colorado Springs, Pueblo Board of Water Works and Fountain are planning on making a bid for a hydropower plant just downstream of the dam. All of the partners are Southeastern district members and other partners could be added. “We’re putting together a partnership to try to win the award,” said Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern district told the district’s board Thursday. “I think this is an opportunity for the district.”

The plant would require an environmental review. It is not decided what organizational structure the group would use to build the hydropower plant. A preliminary report shows the group would make a profit on a plant generating anywhere from 4 to 8.6 megawatts of power. The cost of building the plant would be $11 million to $18.7 million, and state loans, government incentives and grants would be available to pay much of the cost, said Lindsay George of the Applegate Group…

The plant would hook onto the North Outlet Works river connection that is now being built as part of SDS. The connection includes one pipeline that goes to the Juniper Pump Station and another that would serve as the primary feed for the Arkansas River. The feed to the hydropower plant would use direct flows to spin turbines…

The hydropower plant would only be able to run from about April to September, when river releases are high enough to run turbines.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Rio Grande River basin: Water supply forecasters and San Luis Valley irrigators are eyeing a beefed up snowpack measuring network

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

While the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable did not consider a specific funding request, a presentation from a team of federal, state and private researchers laid out improvement areas that included more snow gauges, radar and a host of smaller steps.

Improving runoff forecasts is no small matter to ranchers and farmers in the San Luis Valley, where snowmelt accounts for roughly 80 percent of stream flows…

The first drink out of the Rio Grande and Conejos rivers go toward satisfying interstate compact requirements with Texas and New Mexico and varies in size, according to the snowpack. A larger snowpack means the valley will have to send a greater portion downstream. But inaccurate forecasts can create uncertainty among water users because of the timing of when they’ll be able to divert water and the amount diverted. This year, for example, runoff was larger than predicted in the spring, forcing the state to send a larger amount of water downstream to satisfy the compact. By mid-July irrigators on the Rio Grande were forced to part with 22 percent of their allotment, while water users on the Conejos were watching 46 percent of their rightful share head downstream.

Over the past five years forecasters have come to within 4 percent of the actual runoff. They’ve also been off by as much as 24 percent…

While a pilot project could operate out of the valley as soon as December 2012, the cost of a permanent system could be as high as $10 million, [Steve Vasiloff, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] said.

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.